“In the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, people have not been living alone. For thousands of years, they have been living together with a different kind of population, a population that constantly grows and expands over the plains, the slopes and the mountains of the hinterland of the Mediterranean countries. This is the population of the olive trees,” as we learn from the back cover of a new book, On the Olive Routes by Nikos Michelakis, Angela Malmou, Anaya Sarpaki, and George Fragiadakis.
Above there is a series of educational games and digital books created under the Project of Raising Youth Awareness for Olive and Olive Oil from Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities in cooperation with the International Olive Council (http://www.olivegames.gr/).
Greece is one of the most historic and well-known countries in the world, along with being a top vacation choice for anyone visiting Europe. Not only does it offer beautiful landscapes and plenty of sunshine, but those of us who appreciate history have a lot to learn from this significant country. We are here to tell you some lesser known facts about the ancient nation. Come back soon for part two.
Number Fifteen: It’s About the Size of Alabama
Greece is roughly the same size as this American state. However, its population (10 million plus) is more than double Alabama’s (about 4.5 million).
Number Fourteen: 13th Century Olive Trees
They are the world’s leading olive producers, which you probably knew. But did you know that there are trees that date back as far as the 13th century that are still yielding olives? That is pretty amazing.
Number Thirteen: Greece Is Almost Entirely Mountainous
A staggering amount (80%) of the country is covered by mountainous terrain. It is because of this that they have no navigable rivers there.
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Since antiquity the olive tree has a permanent presence in the landscape of Greece, in the daily life and habits of its people. The culture of the olive tree and its products deeply influenced the civilization of ancient and modern Greeks, and has played an important role not only in the Greek economy, but in all the aspects of Greek civilization, historical, folkloric, traditional, medicinal and artistic.
During older times had been by mistake claimed that its cultivation was transferred in Greece from Palestine. New elements from an analysis of pollen gives evidence for the olive trees presence on the Hellenic space since the Neolithic era. Systematic cultivation of olive trees has been certified during the Minoan period in different places in Greece.
Furthermore, the small plates of Linear A and B from the palaces of Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae testify its economic importance during 14th & 13th centuries B.C. Ancient vessels from Crete with olives and olive-kernels, the depiction from 16th century B.C. of an olive grove at the Cretan Knossos Palace, the traces of oleaster and the fossilized leaves found on the island of Aegean, Santorini – dating back some 50,000 / 60,000 years, the golden glasses with the anaglyph olive-trees from the 16th B.C. Mycenean tomb of Vafi in Sparta-Laconia, the planted by the mythical hero Hercules olive tree in the holy location of Olympia, the mythological tradition of Athena’s and Poseidon’s conflict for the name of Athens city and the offer of olive tree / symbol of reconciliation and peace, against the horse / symbol of war, and the salty water/symbol of sea, the golden holy olive tree of Apollo in Delos, the crowned by olive-branch statue of Zeus in Olympia – a Feidias’ sculpture, the Panathenaic amphorae with the cultivation of olive trees, leave no doubt as to the role of the olive in ancient Greece, and that the present day perceptions of the olive are profoundly shaped by the ancient past. Continue reading